I wrote yesterday about change, self-discovery and better knowing oneself, and it lead me to think about the popular idea of ‘coming of age’. I’m left with a question:
How many times can a person come of age in a single lifetime?
Obviously there are the traditional landmark events – consent, drinking, adulthood – which vary depending on where you are in the world, but I am referring to ‘coming of age’ in a less prescribed, more spiritual, Hollywood blockbuster sort of way.
Big bucks and cult followings can be gained from a good, well-written, relatable coming-of-age movie, of which their have been more than anyone could even begin to imagine. Some big ones you might have seen or heard of include The Breakfast Club (1985), Dazed and Confused (1994), Juno (2007), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), Lady Bird (2017). Most have at their core a single life event, a single experience, a single relationship that by definition sees the protagonist(s) graduate from humble beginnings into the next chapter of their life.
We all know that these characters, were they real, would have plenty more adversity in their futures, but it’s in the formula of coming-of-age movies that their stories are tied up neatly with a bow; their characters now have all the tools they need to get them through whatever might come their way. But is anyone really that lucky?
If my nearly twenty-seven years of life were developed for the screen, I reckon the producers would have enough material for at least three coming-of-age movies. That’s not to say that my life has been wildly dramatic or that I’ve had a disproportionate amount of adversity thrown in my way, far from it, but I have stood at the top of a mountain looking back at the tough climb on many more than one occasion.
One of these moments came literally at the summit of a mountain while cycling in the Pyrenees; I reached the top of the Col du Tourmalet having conquered the demons and challenges of chronic nerve pain. It was the end of what felt, at the time, like a five year journey. But it was far from over.
Now I feel like an almost completely different person having crammed in some pretty intense experiences, developed life-changing friendships, and had my outlook all but derailed in the intervening four years.
Will I keep coming of age in this way until the end of days? Blimey.